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The development of numeracy : a longitudinal study of children from first through fourth grade Vukovic, Rose Kathy

Abstract

The present study investigated the development of numeracy in children from first to fourth grade and was based on a model from research in literacy (Juel, 1988). The present study sought to answer the following questions: Do the same children struggle with numeracy year after year? What skills do children with numeracy difficulties lack? What underlying factors support numeracy achievement? What are the early indicators of numeracy difficulties? The results indicated that the majority of fourth grade children with numeracy difficulties experienced similar difficulties in previous years, indicating a stability of functioning in this area. Furthermore, working memory and mathematical background knowledge were found to have a robust relationship with numeracy achievement and numeracy difficulties, whereas visual-spatial ability, short-term memory, processing speed, and phonological processing did not demonstrate a reliable relationship with numeracy. Together, these results indicate that working memory and math background knowledge are involved in numeracy development in children from first to fourth grade and that across this time period, children with numeracy difficulties struggle with tasks that require complex numerical processing. Educational implications are discussed.

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